E-commerce is an undeniable force in retail that is growing each year, last year by more than 15%. With the number of consumers browsing and buying online predicted to hit 270 million by 2020, the largest group of consumers in the U.S.—millennials—overwhelmingly prefer to shop online at 67 percent. As the importance of online shopping grows, so does the value of companies like F13 Works in Columbus, Ohio, which connects product suppliers to hundreds of thousands of online retail stores to help them sell their products.
“We help connect product suppliers and online retailers. The average seller who wants to list their products online goes right to Amazon or eBay,” said Chris Sentz, co-founder & CEO of F13 Works. “Those platforms account for about half the sales online, but the other half come from thousands of other stores that are being ignored, from major retailers to Mom & Pop boutiques. We connect suppliers to these stores and help them tap into a whole new revenue source.”
F13 Works’ software operates through Shopify, an e-commerce platform which allows retailers to organize products, accept payment, track orders, etc. Through Shopify, F13 Works’ current network of over 400,000 stores gain access to supplier catalogs listed through F13 Works’ software.
“If you wanted to open an apparel store, you could download our Air Waves OnDemand app and pick customizable products we offer—t-shirts, tank tops, sweatshirts, you name it—and then sell them directly through your online store,” said Sentz. “We include the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, description and imagery. When a customer orders, our app sends that data back to the supplier and lets them know where to send it. We give retailers access to products from leading brands and the ability to automate the processing, fulfillment and billing. These connections benefit all sides of the coin.”
F13 Works has been guided by support from Rev1 Ventures, a central Ohio regional partner of Ohio Third Frontier. Sentz and co-founder Ryan Mayhan (CTO) brought their initial idea to Rev1’s Concept Academy, where they were able to determine its viability, identify customer segments and build a business model. Their offices at Rev1 afford them easy access to mentorship as new business opportunities and challenges arise.
The company is working on building solutions for WooCommerce and OpenCart, the second and third-most popular e-commerce solutions after Shopify. F13 Works reaches about 400,000 online stores currently, but set a goal for two million by the end of 2017.
“We’re only scratching the surface on the sort of solutions we want to provide in e-commerce, and we’re really optimistic about our future. We owe a lot to the support we’ve received from Rev1 and the whole startup community in Ohio. Beyond investments, which are important—don’t get me wrong—we have access to some of the best talent from great universities and some of the largest companies in the world. We’re really sitting on a gold mine.”